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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    IV. Vindicate Positions in “Address to the Public”

    On November 10, in the Boston Tabernacle, one of the editors (probably Himes) delivered an address, 10Notice in Advent Herald, Nov. 13, 1844, p. 105. speaking for himself and his associates. Knowing that “in the passing by of the seventh month, our friends and the public have a right to, and will expect from us, a statement,” he presented their case to the world. The leaders frankly acknowledged their mistake in time, he said, discussing the entire problem as it appeared to them, and they took their position in the light of all the known facts and circumstances.PFF4 859.4

    “We are free to confess that, we have twice been disappointed in our expectations in the time of the Lord’s Advent—first the year 1843, and second, in the tenth clay of the seventh month of the present Jewish Sacred Year [1844].” 11[Rimes?], “Address to the Public,” Advent Herald, Nov. 13, 1844, p. 108.PFF4 860.1

    And as the public would not believe such disappointments could be reconciled with further adherence to their advent faith-though “with Adventists no reconciliation is needed”—they therefore presented “A VINDICATION of the positions we have occupied from the first,” and declared that they are only confirmed in “the confident expectation that our hopes will shortly be realized.”PFF4 860.2

    First of all, they had never set any days for the Lord to come in the year “1843,” Jewish time, though their “opponents have repeatedly asserted” that they did, but without justification and truth. They first simply expected the Lord to come “sometime between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844.” The evidence for the “seven times,” or 2520 years (from 677 B.C. to A.D. 1843), the great jubilee of 2450 years (from 607 B.C.), and particularly for the 2300 years, beginning with the 70 weeks of years in 457 B.C., likewise leading to A.D. 1843—and previously and contemporarily held by many prominent non-Millerites—appeared unchanged. At first they had dated the end of these periods in 1843, failing to realize that each period would require the same number of “full years,” and that the mere subtraction of the B.C. date from the A.D. date did not take into account the—PFF4 860.3

    “fraction of the year, which, in each case, had transpired from its commencement, and which would require that each period should extend as much beyond the expiration of A. D. 1843, as they respectively began after the commencement of the year B. C. from which they are dated.” 12Ibid.PFF4 860.4

    While this discrepancy was not at first noticed by the Adventists, neither was it discovered or pointed out by their opponents. Time alone, and the Millerites themselves, corrected that. Nor had their opponents been able to show a “mistake in the definite years,” though they themselves had only held, in the earlier phase, to “about the year 1843.” This they sincerely “proclaimed to the world,” feeling they could not have “acted honestly in the sight of God, and had a conscience void of offence toward men, without so doing.”PFF4 860.5

    They contended that manifestly their “opponents could not be right” when they had absolutely “no agreement among themselves” and obviously had no confidence in each other’s opinions, and that “there was not a cardinal point” in the teaching of the Millerites in which they “were not sustained by one or more” of their most learned opponents. Moreover, they were sustained by the premillennial teachings of the centuries, reaching back to the apostolic times, while most of their opponents were propounding a postmillennial theory not two hundred years old, and which was in direct conflict both with Scripture and with past scholarship. The signs of the times and the all-but-fulfilled historical prophecies supported them. They were clearly in the very period toward which the hopeful eyes of the fathers and the Reformers had been looking.PFF4 861.1

    “Ridicule and contempt” then replaced irrelevant and invalid arguments offered by their opponents, who nevertheless admitted the historic principles of sound interpretation that lay at the foundation of the Millerite positions. With no selfish motives, and not wishing to build up a party or sect, they had brought thousands of souls, including hundreds of infidels, to conversion, while thousands of backsliders had been reclaimed and unnumbered Christians had been made to rejoice in the hope of the advent. But to their “utter surprise and astonishment” the great body of churches “united with the world” in opposition. “But the time—the year 1843, the Jewish year, passed, and we were disappointed in not beholding the King in his beauty.” 13Ibid., p. 109.PFF4 861.2

    Nevertheless, since the Scriptures indicated a “tarrying time,” when they must wait for their Lord, they could see how the hand of God had led, for their message had been a test to demonstrate who were sincere and who would truly welcome the Lord’s return. Next they were aroused by the argument from the Mosaic types, which electrified and aroused the advent bands to newness of life as they thus came to believe that on the tenth day of the Jewish seventh month they should realize the fruition of their hopes. This was the day when, in the earthly service of old, the high priest made atonement in the holy of holies for the sins of ancient Israel.PFF4 861.3

    Now the Mosaic law was a “shadow of good things to come,” and the crucifixion of Christ took place precisely on the Passover day foreshadowed, and He arose as the first fruits of the dead on the specified day of the wave sheaf, and the Holy Spirit descended on exactly the fiftieth day as indicated. They therefore believed that our High Priest, having entered the holy of holies and sprinkled it with His own blood, might come out and bless His waiting people on the antitype of the Day of Atonement, shadowed forth in the ordinances of the Jewish law. It seemed the terminal point. So the cry was everywhere given and the alarm sounded. Yet, as the day passed, they were disappointed again. But it was a soul-purifying experience, and unprecedented blessings had come to them. Thus they reasoned.PFF4 862.1

    The public naturally expected them to renounce it all as a delusion, to relinquish the advent hope and to abandon all their expectations! But that they could not do. They felt they had done the will of the Lord in sounding the alarm, just as did Jonah when he entered Nineveh crying, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It was not overthrown. Was Jonah therefore a false prophet when he preached a time for Nineveh’s destruction? No, he had only preached the message God had bidden. It was a test to the inhabitants, and the people repented and God’s purpose was accomplished. So the Millerites believed that the seventh-month cry had similarly been a test. Had they failed to give it, they would have been like Jonah fleeing to Tarshish. And they must not repeat Jonah’s anger over God’s sparing of Nineveh. Consequently they felt that God justified the preaching of time, without the event occurring just as predicted.PFF4 862.2

    They also cited the test of faith to Abraham—and God’s sparing of the offering of Abraham’s son when his faith had been tested, after he had shown his faith. And when Israel left Egypt it was with full expectation that they would speedily enter Canaan. Their duty was to act; to have failed would have been sin against God. Yet they were obliged to wander many weary years longer because of their unbelief. The present position of the Adventists was then defined: “We now find ourselves occupying a time, beyond which we can extend none of the prophetic periods, according to our chronology and date of their commencement.” 14Ibid., p. 110.PFF4 863.1

    They had passed the time indicated by the types. And though their opponents said time had disproved their whole position, they answered: “We have seen no evidence to disprove that it is at the very door, that it cannot be long delayed, and that the events are of those for which we look.” 15Ibid.PFF4 863.2

    There might be some inaccuracy in the chronology. They may have been a little too early. As to that, they would simply have to wait and watch. So the chronological argument from the types was next re-examined. At the first advent certain types were fulfilled chronologically—the death of the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the month, when Christ was crucified, and the offering of the first fruits by His resurrection on the sixteenth day—the morrow after the paschal sabbath. But others were not fulfilled on the exact date-Christ as our High Priest entered the heavenly holy of holies in the third month. 16This belief in His entering the second-apartment phase of His heavenly ministry at the ascension accounts for their expectation of His coming out on the tenth of the seventh month, 1844. They overlooked the fact that on that day the ancient high priest had both entered as well as emerged from the holy of holies.PFF4 863.3

    Moreover, they held that their application of prophetic time was sustained by the standard expositors of the church throughout the centuries. First, there was the year-day principle for the prophetic time periods of Daniel and the Revelation. Even their antagonists, Professors Stuart and Bush, conceded that-Stuart admitting that the “great mass” of English and American exposition had so held; 17Moses Stuart, Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 74. and Bush wrote, “You are sustained by the soundest exegesis, as well as fortified by the high names of”—and a number of the leading expositors follow 18George Bush, letter to Miller, in Advent Herald, March 6, 1844, p. 38. Bush argues for the year-day principle against Stuart in his “Prophetic Designations of Time. To Professor Stuart.-Letter VII,” The Hierophant, April, 1843, p. 243.PFF4 863.4

    Next, the Historicist view of prophecy is likewise sustained by the voice of the church for eighteen centuries. English expositor William Cuninghame’s summary of early church, then the Jewish, Reformation and post-Reformation, and nineteenth-century Old World positions are cited. 19[Himes?], “Address to the Public,” Advent Herald, Nov. 13, 1844, p. 111. On Cuninghame see Prophetic Faith, Vol. III, pp. 364-385. But now their opponents were forsaking the platform of their fathers. That the Adventists were unwilling to do. Many non-Millerite scholars were now looking for some great new development shortly, but the question at issue was the nature of the event.PFF4 864.1

    The three major views are summarized in the Advent Herald: The first view is that of “the churches,” the new post-millennial philosophy introduced by Daniel Whitby (antagonistic to the standard view of the church throughout the Christian Era), with its era of human betterment and world conversion preceding the advent. The second is the contemporary Literalist view preponderant in Great Britain (a dozen noted names are cited). This includes a premillennial advent, with a partial regeneration of the earth and a partial reformation of mankind. The millennial kingdom, centering in the restored Jewish nation, with Christ reigning in Jerusalem, will be followed by the consummation of all things at the end of the millennium. The third view is that of the “Second Adventists”—a reaffirmation of their “Fundamental Principles,” in which they differ “in some material points” from their fellow premillennialists, the Literalists. Five principles may be listed:PFF4 864.2

    1. The earth, restored to its Edenic state, is to be the eternal abode of the resurrected saints.PFF4 865.1

    2. The only millennium is that of Revelation 20, the thousand years between the two resurrections—the other commonly adduced scriptures applying to the new earth state.PFF4 865.2

    3. The only future restoration of Israel is the restoration of the saved to the renewed earth at the advent.PFF4 865.3

    4. The signs preceding Christ’s advent have appeared, and all the prophecies have been fulfilled except those relating to the end.PFF4 865.4

    5. No prophetic periods extend beyond the present time. 20Ibid., pp. 111. 112.PFF4 865.5

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